3 extensions the Cardinals should have made instead of Tommy Edman's

The Tommy Edman contract extension has been marred slightly by his uncertain future in 2024. Should the Cardinals have inked someone else long-term?
St. Louis Cardinals v Cincinnati Reds
St. Louis Cardinals v Cincinnati Reds / Jeff Dean/GettyImages
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The St. Louis Cardinals gave Tommy Edman an extension this past offseason, and soon after his status for 2024 became murky. The extension bought out his final year of arbitration in 2024 and his first year of free agency next year. It was a two-year, $16.5 million deal.

John Mozeliak has a pretty strong track record when it comes to player extensions, particularly ones to arbitration-eligible players. Given the rocky start to Edman's 2024 season, this particular contract may not end up well for the Cardinals. The uncertainty surrounding Edman's availability this year means there's a chance he only plays for a year and a half of his two-year deal.

This opens up the opportunity to reflect on other players who could (should?) have received extensions instead of the super-utility player and resumed starting center fielder. With several young players on the roster, the opportunities are vast.

These 3 St. Louis Cardinals should have been given a contract extension instead of Tommy Edman.

Ryan Helsley

A few months back, I mentioned Helsley as a strong candidate for a contract extension. Reliable relievers are tough to find in today's game, and the volatility of the position paired with rising prices on oft-injured pitchers should make a team wary of buying free-agent veterans. Ryan Helsley has been strong in the closer role for the Cardinals since 2022.

The former All-Star has accumulated 38 saves for his career--3 already in 2024. His 2023 season was limited due to a forearm injury, but he was still solid with a 2.45 ERA and 52 strikeouts in only 36.2 innings. Oli Marmol recently stated that Helsley would be used in a traditional closer role for the 2024 season to maintain his mental fortitude and health

He will turn 30 in July, and he signed a $3.8 million contract via arbitration this winter. Helsley will become a free agent after the 2025 season. If the Cardinals can sign him to a long-term contract, they will have him for his age-30 through his age-32 seasons, perhaps the prime of a reliever's career.

In February, I posited a 4-year, $18 million extension for Helsley; that was before arbitration, however. I think a 3-year deal worth around $16 million would be enticing to the right-handed flamethrower. This buys out his final year of arbitration and his first two years of free agency. It is also a fairly team-friendly deal when thinking about the free-agent contracts around $8 million for comparable pitchers.